March 31, 2009

American Idiot Tapped for Theatrical Presentation

Green Day was always pretty theatrical-- mugging for the fans, lots of eye makeup on stage, exaggerated antics... But now-- just when every Green Day fan in the world is waiting with baited breath for news about 21st Century Breakdown (the new album coming out May 15)-- we hear that Green Day's previous album, American Idiot has been adapted for theatrical presentation.

American Idiot was Green Day's most ambitious endeavor, a musically uncompromised powerful examination of America's all too real underbelly as the age of Bush was reaching its apex. Most critics said it would be too far over rock listeners' heads and would confuse the band's mammoth overseas fan base. Instead it sold over 12 million copies, the band's biggest hit in many years. It's hard to imagine it being adapted to a small stage by the Berkeley Repertory Theater but it opens there on September 4 for a scheduled 3 week run.

Following numerous victories for “Spring Awakening” at the 2007 Tony Awards Mr. [Michael] Mayer and his producing partner, Tom Hulce, approached Green Day about adapting American Idiot for the theater. After two workshops in New York in 2008-- a summer session to try out orchestrations by Tom Kitt (Next to Normal), and a winter session that added choreography by Steven Hoggett (Black Watch)-- the band gave its consent for a full-scale stage production.

For now the creative team is tight lipped about how, exactly, it will translate the libretto of American Idiot into a narrative. As Mr. Armstrong admitted, “It’s not the most linear story in the world.”

But Mr. Mayer said, “If you read it a certain way, you can pull out a multiplicity of voices.” He hinted that a triumvirate of characters referred to elliptically in the album’s lyrics, with names like Jesus of Suburbia, St. Jimmy and Whatshername, would likely emerge as the central characters. All told, he said, the ensemble would include 19 performers playing characters in their early 20s, though no casting has been announced.

I wonder if they'll have someone portraying Bush or Cheney.

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